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What's In and What's Out in the Oil Damaged Gulf

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Rocky Kistner       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink

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With a new year upon us, it's time to take stock of the historic BP oil disaster and look towards the future. The Deepwater Horizon blow out shined a national spotlight on the oil and gas drilling in the Gulf, an environmental time bomb that blew 50 miles offshore. The disaster created more than oily waves in the region. It provided dramatic insight into an industry that fought and ignored safety regulations, spewed record amounts of oil and toxic chemicals into the waterways, fouled the air with health threatening refinery and petrochemical plant pollution, and cut thousands of marsh killing pipeline canals across the bayous.

Today, the oil industry continues to push drilling pipe into the seabed, sucking up hydrocarbons to power our oil addicted economy and leading us further down the destructive path of global climate change. But Gulf residents are not the only ones to blame. It's all of us. We have permitted the oil and gas industry to maintain a strangle-hold on our politicians and block clean energy solutions that will not only create new jobs but make the planet healthier for us all. It's time to change that.

Photo by Rocky Kistner/NRDC

I spent most of my time in the Gulf last year and was a personal witness to this tragedy. On April 20, people in the Gulf received a shocking wake-up call--a reality check about the oil industry's destructive habits. I've talked to many fishermen and residents who once accepted the massive oil pipelines and leaking drilling rigs as a way of doing business in the Gulf.

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But now many are having second thoughts. People there are still hurting economically, physically and mentally from the aftermath of 200 million gallons of BP oil spewed into the sea. And many will likely be hurting for years to come. This year will be a crucial one for Gulf fishermen hoping, praying and counting on the seafood industry to return to normal. If it doesn't, there will be hell to pay. And hundreds of millions of dollars of oil industry PR won't stem their wrath.

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It's important to note that over the past year the winds of change have swept through the region. Life is not the same and may never be after this oil catastrophe. Here are some of the things that are out from last year and what's in for the year to come in the Gulf. Please feel free to add your own.

OUT: Minerals Management Service, a toothless oil industry safety and oversight agency.

IN: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, a revamped regulatory agency designed to improve independent oil industry oversight.

OUT: Restaurants featuring fresh Gulf coast oysters, shrimp and crab.

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IN: Menus featuring crawfish and imported frozen shrimp.

OUT: BP CEO Tony Hayward and his foot-in-mouth statements.

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Rocky Kistner is a media associate with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Since June, 2010, he has focused on the BP oil disaster in the Gulf, working out of NRDC's Gulf Resource Center in Buras, LA. He is a been a print and broadcast (more...)

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